Jan Cross had her name engraved on the West Lake Ladies Golf Championship trophy for the first time in 1987, and few other names have claimed the trophy since.
Her dominance in the event includes a winning streak from 1998-2007. After trailing by as many as four strokes at the recent two-day championship, Cross came back on the final back nine to win her 20th club title.
The secret to her success?
“Probably longevity more than anything else,” Cross said, downplaying her accomplishments. “I’ve never been a practicer. I’m not one who goes down to the practice tee and beats balls. Pretty much what shows up, shows up.”
Kirk Hice has been director of golf operations at West Lake Golf Club since 2007 and hasn’t seen many things like Cross’s run.
“It’s an extremely rare feat,” Hice said. “It’s outstanding and it’s something to stand over many years and that she was able to keep her game that consistent for that long is very, very impressive.”
Cross is a past president of the Georgia Women’s Golf Association and says creating the forward tee division is probably her biggest claim to fame.
“It means seven-and-under handicaps play from championship tees, the rest of us played a little more forward,” said Cross, now an 11 handicap. “I was the first winner of that at Great Waters in 2003. Along with winning the 20, that’s probably my single best victory.”
Cross had no notion of playing golf growing up in Greenville, S.C. She didn’t start until she and her husband Ron, now the chairman of the Columbia County Commission, became members at West Lake. She started playing tennis and golf and found she enjoyed golf more.
“The thing that draws me the most is it’s you and the golf course,” Cross said. “To me, it’s a lot harder than tennis because the court never changes. You know that line’s there.
“On the golf course you may get in a divot, there’s just too many variables on a golf course and you have to think about what you’re doing. And sometimes the best thing you can do is not go for the best shot but play smart.”
Cross competes in tournaments for the Georgia Senior Women’s Golf Association, the Georgia Women’s Association and the Georgia State Golf Association.
“I think that probably the nicest part about golf is the friendships you’ve made over the years and knowing that you can always go probably somewhere in the state and find a golf game,” Cross said. “If you have a great day on the golf course and don’t have anyone to share it with, it’s kind of not any fun. You need to be able to share it with your golf buddy, your husband, your friend, whoever.”
There’s no telling how long the run will continue or how long the 66-year-old will keep playing, but she knows when it will be time to put the clubs up for good.
“I will stop when it stops being fun or I get in someone’s way,” she said.